Distance: 10.5 km
Elevation gain: 630 m (cumulative)View mapDownload GPS track
This is an increasingly popular early season hike. Admittedly the scenery isn't particularly good, but the wildflowers are out early in this area and the grassy hills make for leisurely walking. A trailhead that starts with good views and at 2000 m is also nice!
The trailhead is located at the highpoint of highway 532 after the steep, mildly precarious drive up the hill. I did it effortlessly in a Honda Civic, so it's not too bad if you go slow and watch for rocks and ruts. Park by the small pond here and then ascend the hill on the same side of the road as the pond (east). It's opposite the trail for Hailstone Butte
. From here head roughly south along the rolling hills, following bits of ATV and people track. There are many rolling hills in this area that invite exploration; your destination (Windy Peak) is the peak roughly to the south, usually between you and the much larger Mt. Livingstone. There are many ups and downs along the the trail and you never really go higher than the first bump until Windy Peak, and even it is only 200 m higher than where you parked!
Approach the base of Windy Peak after about 5.5 km. The trail splits here; a newly cut path branching off to the right offers a more gentle ascent of the initial hill, but will likely be muddy. Once through this band of trees, simply pick your way to the top however you find easiest. While we just ascended the peak directly, it may be easier to ascend the southern ridge; I'm not sure as I didn't check it out.
To return to the trailhead, simply retrace your steps (be cognizant of the cumulative elevation gain if you do it this way) or descend off the northern ridge of Windy Peak, connect up with highway 532 and wander back to your car, which is what we chose to do. Survey this route from the top to avoid navigational difficulties near the bottom. Once reaching treeline, spend some time looking for the trail off the ridge. It has been cut by chainsaw and is surprisingly hard to find (at least with snow around), but if you don't find the trail the bushwhacking is near impossible. We stumbled around for a bit, then veered to the right and found the trail. At the bottom of the hill, hop over a few streams and pick your way back through fields and clearcut to the road.